Life ban for Malta player
Geneva - Malta international Kevin Sammut has been banned from soccer for
life after UEFA found him guilty of helping to fix a European Championship
qualifying match in a betting scam.
His lawyer, Michael Sciriha, told The Associated Press on Monday that UEFA's
appeals panel increased Sammut's 10-year ban to a lifetime expulsion on Friday.
Sammut denies colluding with a Croatian-led match-fixing syndicate in June
2007 to manipulate Malta's 4-0 loss in Norway in a Euro 2008 qualifier.
Sciriha said Sammut could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after
getting the detailed verdict from UEFA.
"We have to wait for the reasoned decision, then we will make a
decision," Sciriha said by telephone. "We are very disappointed that
after a six, seven hours' hearing, they (the appeal panel) came to a decision
after 15 minutes."
UEFA said it planned to publish a statement about the case later on Monday.
The appeal last Friday was required after both sides challenged a 10-year
ban imposed on Sammut by UEFA's disciplinary panel in August.
The 31-year-old midfielder sought to clear his name and the governing body
requested a lifetime sanction, to prevent him ever coaching or working in the
UEFA has not specified its evidence used to convict Sammut of helping to fix
the match in Oslo.
The plot was detailed last year during a criminal trial in Bochum, Germany,
by Marijo Cvrtak, an associate of convicted match-fixer Ante Sapina.
Cvrtak claimed that he met three Malta players in their Oslo hotel who would
arrange the fix.
Norway, then ranked No 36 in FIFA's world rankings, was favoured to beat
No 117 Malta. Three late goals boosted payouts on potential bets such as how
many goals would be scored and the margin of Malta's defeat.
Sammut was substituted at halftime when Malta trailed 1-0. His teammates
Kenneth Scicluna and Stephen Wellman, who both played the full 90 minutes, were
also charged by UEFA but cleared.
In the Bochum court, Sapina and Cvrtak were said to have made millions in
betting profits by bribing referees, players and officials to help manipulate
matches and results.
Cvrtak was found guilty on 26 counts of fraud and attempted fraud and
sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail. Sapina, who was previously jailed
in a 2005 German refereeing scandal, got the same sentence.